Can I homeschool my child temporarily?


Home desk in front of window

Sometimes families run into an issue and need to know if they can homeschool their child temporarily or if it’s possible to homeschool for just one semester. It is possible but it really depends on:

  • Student’s grade level
  • State homeschool guidelines
  • Reasons for temporary homeschooling
  • Public school services
  • Time of school year

Below are thoughts for consideration for each aspect of temporary homeschooling to help in your decision making and transition from public school to homeschool.

Student’s grade level

Homeschooling temporarily at the K-8 level does not have the same impact as the high school level when students are earning credits toward graduation.

The process for withdrawing a student from grades K-8 varies from state to state, but it’s typically a simple process that may require a signature and providing some documentation about the withdrawal. For homeschooling, it may be that you provide them with a copy of your letter of intent to homeschool.

If you have intentions of your K-8 student returning to public school after a semester, then it would be ideal if your homeschool plan followed the same state standards being taught for that grade level. These are found by an Internet search on your state’s Department of Education website, or by asking your local school’s curriculum advisor.

If you come across the need for temporary homeschooling during the 9-12 grades, then you should contact the school guidance counselor or academic advisor and discuss the issue. It could be that the school system could provide homebound services or they suggest a virtual school option that allows your student to remain enrolled for the time when home services are needed.

It’s more difficult to homeschool temporarily in grades 9-12 because some high schools may have criteria for re-entry where you could run into an issue with credits from homeschool courses. It could also be further complicated if they require certain exams or documentation that’s difficult to provide from a home education setting.

If you must temporarily homeschool in grades 9-12 and will be returning to the public school, then ask (preferably email for documentation) the academic advisor would you would need to do or provide to ensure that your child will receive credits upon the return to school. They may also recommend a state virtual school that you could use during this time where it would be easier to transfer credits once your student returns.

State homeschool guidelines

For anyone considering a temporary homeschool situation, it’s important to know what your state homeschool requirements. You should be able to find those requirements by searching “name of state” homeschool requirements, and looking for resources from your state’s Department of Education.

These laws vary on a wide scale, and another valuable resource for understanding requirements is any homeschool groups in your local community. Often these groups have a Facebook page or website as well as an organizer who could point you in the right direction.

There are a few states that require parents to have certification or gain permission to homeschool. Others may not have certification requirements but they need a letter of intention and/or require attendance and grading information.

Each state is different and this is information you will want to have before making a decision to temporarily homeschool your child.

Possible reasons for temporary homeschooling

Below are various reasons that a family may need to homeschool temporarily and thoughts to consider for each reason. Every child is unique and learns differently and temporary homeschooling may or may not work for every situation.

Academics

Your child may be behind in a certain subject area(s) and needs additional time or he/she may be exceeding in a subject area(s) and is not being challenged enough. Either way, if there is an academic need that is not being met, homeschooling does provide a more personalized and one on one environment than a traditional classroom.

A good question to consider would be whether or not you could commit to a homeschool environment on a more long term basis if more time is needed to meet your child’s individualized academic needs.

Homeschool for academic intervention for students who are struggling is not easy. It may require the additional support of tutors or therapies and planning for those costs. If a student had a difficult time focusing in the classroom setting, the home environment may or may not improve their attention. It is possible with homeschool to provide instruction and materials in various formats and adjust the pace until your child is successful.

Medical Issues-

If a child’s immune system is compromised from (for example) an illness or injury and you need to avoid the classroom setting during the cold or flu season, you may be able to receive homebound services from your local public school system. This requires speaking and meeting with school social workers who may require documentation from your child’s pediatrician or primary care provider.

If your child qualifies for those services, a teacher from the school system will be assigned to come to your home for a pre-determined number of hours per week and work with your child to keep up with school assignments for his or her grade level. They are still considered an actively enrolled student in the public school system but may have a temporary status of “homebound” until they are able to return to the traditional setting.

If you know this is a temporary situation and your child will be returning to public school, then this may be the best option as it allows them to keep their enrollment status and continue receiving educational services while they recover from an illness or injury or until their immune system is stronger. The school system may also have virtual options for your child during a temporary absence.

If your child is in the hospital recovering from an injury, both the hospital and the school system may have support staff that can help your child complete the work that they are capable of during that time. Again, the school counselor and social workers can help guide families through this process.

Anxiety-

If your child is experiencing anxiety associated with school, you would want to carefully consider the implications of homeschooling temporarily as their anxiety could worsen from the transition back to public school after being in a home education environment. If your child thrives in the home education environment and you have the option of it being a more permanent form of schooling, then homeschool may be a great option.

If your child is anxious or has a school-related fear but you would not be able to provide home education on a long term basis, then it would be advised to get key staff members from the school (teacher, counselor, administrator, nurse) to form a plan to better support your child at school. They may require documentation from a pediatrician or family healthcare provider to be able to provide certain accommodations or modifications to your child’s school day.

Moving-

If you are moving out of a school district and cannot immediately enroll into another school system, then homeschooling temporarily would be a good option. This could be the situation for a military family or a family emergency that requires temporary travel that will be one semester or shorter.

Some families make this decision depending on the time of the year for the move. If it’s close to the end of the school year, usually one parent will remain in the same community with the kids to finish out the school year while the other parent starts the move to the other location. You could consult with school officials about any virtual options they may have, but some systems require that the student is a resident to receive any type of services.

Teacher/Peer Issue-

This is an entirely legitimate reason if the health and safety of your child is compromised in any way, but it can be a complex one if there’s not an option for long term homeschooling.

If you know your child will be returning to the same school or school system after a short time, then it may be in the child’s best interest to involve and seek out additional school or district staff in a plan to address the situation at hand. Sometimes involving various members of the district will lead to new ideas and permission to change a classroom, grade level, and/or even school if there’s another option in your area.

If your child is at the K-8 level and a school/teacher/peer issue arises that can’t be resolved in a way that you feel best meets the needs of your child, then you can homeschool them temporarily if it’s an option in your state. It’s important to note that some states have laws and guidelines about removing a student from public school if there have been recent attendance and/or discipline issues. Make sure you follow the guidelines so that everything is done according to protocol and you’re ready for a fresh start with a transition to home education.

Family Emergency-

Sometimes a family emergency brings a necessity for temporary homeschooling. School officials, especially guidance counselors, may be able to provide some resources or information that could help in your specific situation. If your child would continue to thrive with a familiar and consistent schedule during a family crisis, then perhaps friends or neighbors could assist with the school schedule during this time. If your child is anxious and prefers to be with family and you are able to provide the education, then homeschooling temporarily may be in the best interests for everyone involved. School officials may also be able to provide some resources or additional guidance.

Sports or Performing Arts Opportunities-

If your child is an athlete and/or performer who participates in special events or competitions, you may need a temporary homeschool structure to accommodate practices, schedules and events. If that’s an areas where your child has high aspirations and where their talent abounds, homeschool could provide a great solution to an environment that includes time for both academics and athletics/performing arts. This would be difficult to accomplish in a traditional brick and mortar schooling that requires seat time or doesn’t have an attendance policy that allows for a hybrid schedule. Online schooling may also be an option to participate in both sports or performance arts.

Young Man Lifting Weights

Public School Services

It’s worth checking with your public school system before making the transition to homeschool to see if there are services they may be able to provide that would help your situation.

They may be able to offer homebound services, virtual options or involve a counselor/special departments in coming up with a plan that would work for everyone.

Temporary homeschooling may be determined to be the best fit for your situation but it’s worth checking with school officials who may be able to offer some ideas that haven’t previously been considered. Often, they are able to provide some suggestions based off of experiences with other students who may have had similar situations.

Time of school year

Pulling your child out of school mid-year would have different considerations than at the beginning of the year. At the mid-year point, the students are used to the schedule and routines and a transition to homeschool would require some time to adjust. You would also need to know your state’s homeschool requirements and decide if you will finish covering the state based curriculum or if you will be using a different curriculum to finish the school year.

If there’s not much time left in a nine weeks or semester when a need arises for temporary homeschool, it would be beneficial if at all possible to make the transition as a nine weeks or semester ends and before the next one starts.

If ultimately, temporary homeschooling is decided to be the best option and what’s needed for your situation, then you can set up for a positive transition from public school to homeschool by involving your children in a way where they feel calm and confident about the temporary change. Even though the change may be temporary, most students will benefit from closure with telling their peers and teacher goodbye.

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